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Massachusetts Court Finds that Plaintiff in Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Presented Enough Proof to Reviewing Tribunal to Move Forward to Trial as to Some Defendants

Filing a Cape Cod medical malpractice lawsuit is a multi-step process. Unlike other types of negligence cases (such as those stemming from car crashes or slip and fall accidents), a plaintiff must first present his or her proof to a reviewing board. If this tribunal does not find that the plaintiff has presented sufficient evidence so as to warrant a trial, his or her case will be dismissed unless a bond is posted.

However, the tribunal’s decision is reviewable by the courts, and sometimes such the tribunal’s decision is reversed on appeal.

Facts of the Case

In a recent (unreported) Massachusetts Appeals Court case, the plaintiff was the personal representative of the estate of a man who allegedly died due to the negligence of the defendants, two hospitals and several doctors. The plaintiff presented her case to a medical malpractice tribunal, which ruled that there was not enough evidence to raise a legitimate issue of liability as to four of the physicians or as to one of the hospitals. The plaintiff did not post the bond required under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 231, § 60B, and thus the trial court dismissed her case as to those defendants. She appealed.

Decision of the Appeals Court

The court of appeals affirmed the lower court’s decision as to two of the physicians but vacated it as to the other two doctors and the hospital against whom the plaintiff’s case had been dismissed earlier. The reviewing court first acknowledged that the job of the malpractice tribunal was to determine whether the plaintiff had presented evidence sufficient to raise a “legitimate question of liability” that would be appropriate for judicial inquiry. This required three elements: 1) proof that the defendant was a healthcare provider, 2) proof that his or her performance did not conform to good medical practice, and 3) proof that the plaintiff suffered damages as a result of the defendant’s action or inaction.

As to two of four doctors dismissed from the case by the lower court, the court of appeals agreed with the malpractice tribunal and the lower court that the plaintiff had not offered proof that explained how those healthcare providers deviated from the standard of care that was owed to her decedent. Thus, the appellate court agreed that dismissal of the plaintiff’s claim as to these defendants was appropriate. As to the other two doctors and the hospital, however, the court found that there was “enough” in the plaintiff’s offer of proof to allow her to go forward with her medical malpractice lawsuit against those defendants, thus reversing the lower court’s dismissal as to the defendants.

Schedule an Appointment with a Cape Cod Malpractice Attorney

As much as we would like to believe otherwise, doctors do make mistakes. So do nurses, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and nursing homes. If you or someone in your family has been the victim of an act of negligence by a medical professional, you need to talk to a lawyer about the possibility of filing suit against the responsible party. To schedule an appointment with an experienced Cape Cod medical malpractice attorney, call the Law Offices of John C. Manoog, III, at 888-262-6664 today.

Related Blog Posts

Massachusetts Appeals Court Affirms Dismissal of Medical Malpractice Case

Massachusetts Malpractice Law Requires Cash Bond to Continue if Tribunal Does Not Find Sufficient Evidence